Can you believe I’ve never been to Miami? Me neither! My sister chose it as her birthday destination and I was super excited to finally visit. As there was a lot to celebrate we bought a few bottles of champagne at Duty-Free to enjoy over the weekend.
The flight from Heathrow is just under 10 hours. I had no idea it would be so long, whew! The old aircraft had us feeling super dry and dehydrated but it was worth it because Miami is amazing!
Hotel Review: Eden Roc Miami Beach
We stayed at the Eden Roc on Miami Beach. It’s a cute hotel with spacious rooms, two pools and beach access. I love the Margiela Replica Jazz Club toiletries, in-room clothes steamer, full-length mirror, great views and rainfall open shower. The service is underwhelming to say the least though.
Guests at Eden Roc and Nobu hotel share dining facilities (two hotels, one site) which meant a chaotic breakfast experience. Breakfast is served at Nobu restaurant which is way too small to facilitate two full hotels. We put our names down with an unknown wait time, so decided to order room service instead. In-room dining was also overwhelmed, so after waiting for a callback, we were told to try Nobu. Sis we just came from there! We couldn’t wait an hour for food so requested an ice bucket and glasses. These didn’t arrive before we left so were then hungry AND sober. It reminds of why I prefer smaller, boutique hotels.
There was also a lack of info about the amenities available (bike rental, spa facilities etc). You aren’t informed at the front desk, you just have to know. I enjoyed my stay but wouldn’t stay here again, there are way too many options and variety is the spice of life.
On a more positive note, the hotel is pet-friendly! I met a gorgeous Frenchie named ‘Boujie’ who was staying on my floor. She was so excitable, running down the hallway to jump on me and chase her tail. So adorable. I want one.
Food is always a top priority wherever I go. When planning Miami I had two specific cuisines in mind: Cuban and Haitian. Although I had a Cuban sandwich on my last day, I didn’t have a chance to visit Little Havana which is a shame. It’s definitely a top priority for next time.
Luckily we made it to Little Haiti and tried Griot for the first time at Chef Creole Seasoned Kitchen. I knew it was authentic because two servers ignored me as I waited and the restrooms are back through the kitchen. The meals are circa $10 and we wanted everything. There’s only so much two people can eat so we settled on griot, fried shrimp and oxtail, all served with “rice and beans” and plantain with fruit punch on the side. The griot and oxtail are nice, the oxtail gravy was plentiful and much appreciated but the fried shrimp is mindblowing! The servings are generous so proceed with caution but it’s definitely worth the visit.
Another ‘must visit’ restaurant is Amara at Paraiso, serving Latin American cuisine situated on the waterfront. We celebrated my sister’s birthday here and were both blown away. There are bottomless wine options but you want to go for the mezcal or tequila-based cocktails which are delicious. We enjoyed pre-drinks at the bar before ordering the carafe of tequila with chasers (guava juice, soda water, tonic water and ginger ale). Tequila + Guava + Ginger Ale = a damn good time, in case you’re wondering! My other recommendation is the ‘seafood parillada’ for two. The menu claims it serves ‘2-4’ but unless you’re dining with children you’ll want to keep it between two. The platter contains fish, octopus, scallops and giant prawns…seafood heaven! I honestly can’t recommend it enough.
For New Year’s Eve, we went for an early dinner at Mandolin Aegean Bistro in the Design District. It’s a cute Greek/Turkish restaurant with candle-lit outdoor dining and great food. I love the lamb chops and orzo as well as the seabass. I imagine it’s nice by day, but it’s so beautiful after dark I’d recommend visiting no earlier than around sunset.
Other notable mentions include Bacon Bitch, a casual breakfast spot that serves alcohol to complement your bacon and croissants. When you enter you’re greeted with an affectionate, “you bitches been here before?” It’s a cool, fun concept but you may hate being called bitch after every sentence…
We didn’t eat at any of the restaurants on Española Way but I got a delicious passionfruit gelato at Gelato-go. Also, the perks of having Nobu onsite is snacking on grilled shrimp skewers mid-afternoon. Lord knows I love shrimp! Lavish but delicious.
I was genuinely surprised by how big Miami is. Beyond the beach, there’s Wynwood which is super cool and artsy. We enjoyed cocktails and tacos at Coyo Taco on our first night before visiting the bar in the back, was offered trees and watched a woman twerk on the sidewalk to the music of a passing vehicle. The Design District is another cool area filled with upscale interior design, fashion boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. I didn’t make it to Downtown Miami or Brickell but there are several drinking and dining options to chose from in those neighbourhoods. The Versace Mansion is another iconic landmark to visit for a meal or photos.
My party days are well and truly behind me and I can’t dance to hip-hop all night so the clubs were not on my radar at all. For New Year’s Eve, we went to an Afrocode party which plays hip-hop, soca, afrobeats and dancehall. I’d love to go back for their day party as the venue is super cute and the vibe is nice. I met a Trini lady who was telling us about all the West Indian events but unfortunately they didn’t coincide with our trip. If you haven’t guessed already I need to go back to get my life!
I’m super upset I didn’t have time to visit any art galleries but Pérez Art Museum, Rubell Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art are on my bucket list for next time. Another cool spot on my list is the Basement Miami at the EDITION hotel, a nightclub with an ice-skating rink and bowling alley.
It goes without saying but visit the beach and sit by the pool at least once. Several, if not all the hotels sell day passes so you can enjoy the lavish pool area without being a resident.
If you’re travelling as a group I’d also look into renting a yacht for the ultimate Miami experience. We got serious boat-envy every time we saw the yachts lined up outside our hotel.
London is an excellent place for fashion so shopping is rarely on my mind when I go abroad but I’m a sucker for beauty products so that’s where I tend to indulge. No trip to America is complete without a trip (or two) to Sephora! The exchange rate was much better than it was when I visited New York so I scored some great deals on high-end products. One thing I love about Sephora is the extensive collection of minis so you can try new things.
CVS and Walgreens are my other go-to’s to stock up on Differin (miracle-worker), American Blistex (contains a special spicy crack not found in the UK version) and snacks I don’t need such as red-flavoured Mike and Ikes and Twix Cookies and Cream. Also the massive Target on N Miami Ave for more things I want but don’t need!
We had an incredible trip, I honestly didn’t expect to love Miami as much as I did. The vibe is incredible and I love the city/beach combo, also, the taxi-lifestyle means I can be cute and wear heels everywhere! I’m already daydreaming about my next visit, hopefully for Art Basel weekend…or possibly Miami Carnival? Let’s see where 2020 takes me!
Top Tips for your trip to Miami
- I’d recommend applying for Global Entry because the queues at Passport Control are ridiculously long. I regret not doing mine.
- Download Lyft as it’s much cheaper than Uber and nowhere is within walking distance lol.
- Pack your sexiest, chicest outfits and accessories. Those who make an effort are fly as hell!
- There are tons of hotels along Collins Ave but I find it busier the further South you go. Staying as far North as the Eden Roc/Fontainebleau isn’t a dealbreaker but keep in mind there’s nothing but boats and water up there.
- The flight times from Heathrow mean you spend your first and last day travelling. I’d recommend 4-5 full days in between to get the most out of your stay.